Media: Joe Slovo residents defy move to Delft

22 06 2009

21 June 2009, 13:32
By Nwabisa Msutwana-Stemela
Source: Mercury

Tension is mounting in Langa near Cape Town as informal settlers from Joe Slovo slowly fill up every available piece of open land in the more established areas.
Joe Slovo residents, many of whom were moved to make way for the Gateway project and who do not want to move to residential units in Delft, have settled in other parts of Langa in their hundreds and erected shacks.

More move in almost every day and some Langa residents have now called for the authorities and community leaders to intervene.

One resident, who did not want to be named, said tensions had been mounting between residents and the newcomers and police have had to be called on occasion.

“We understand their plight but we cannot condone their acts because they live under hazardous conditions that are dangerous and unhealthy. These conditions affect all of us because they have no electricity, water or sanitation and they dump everything in the drains.”

She said there were new shacks going up “on a daily basis” and “it was getting out of hand”. She called for leaders to intervene because things were turning “nasty”.

Last week the Constitutional Court handed down a judgment that the Joe Slovo residents be given proper alternative accommodation. It also ruled that 70 percent of the current and former residents be accommodated at any future low-cost housing project at the N2 Gateway.

Residents still living in the informal settlement can be moved to temporary residential units in Delft but many people do not want to move.

Thubelisha Homes, connected to the Gateway projects, and the Joe Slovo residents have been given until June 30 to agree on the start of any new relocation process.

Community task team chairman Sfiso Zulu said they had raised many concerns about the move to Delft. In the past people who had agreed to move were given forms to sign which were never properly explained to them.

“They were told to take their assets and they were loaded into trucks and their shacks were dismantled without them really knowing what was going on.”

Zulu accused the ANC government of implementing “apartheid laws” under which people were moved to distant areas where there were no job opportunities or access to transport.

They did not want to disrupt the government’s efforts to relocate people to temporary residential areas, but Delft “was out of the question”.

He said Langa was central and people could get part-time jobs in the surrounding areas.

“The authorities do not have our interests at heart and are making decisions about where we should be accommodated.”

Joe Slovo resident Siyazi Siziba said people who had voluntarily moved to Delft had come back because “there was no life” there. She said they wanted to remain in Langa and many had started moving to backyards before the relocation deadline.

Promises that certain sections of Langa would be developed had been made by the authorities but nothing had come to fruition.

Shack dweller Vusumzi Vokwana said local houses were “too small” to accommodate big families and the only option was to build shacks where land was available. Shack dwellers only paid for the electricity from more established homes and did not pay rent.

But ward councillor Mayenzeke Sopaqa said Joe Slovo residents needed to obey the government’s rules because the move to Delft would ultimately benefit them. He condemned people who were moving out of the informal settlement and erecting their shacks in open spaces in Langa.

“Their behaviour cannot be tolerated. There are by-laws which prohibit people from building in certain areas. The government wants to eradicate poverty and provide people with decent houses.

“They have to move out of Joe Slovo so that construction can start happening and there is no land available in Langa to accommodate them.”

Sopaqa said those who were building shacks in Langa should return to where they came from. “We don’t want a situation where forced removals and political and police intervention will be required.”

* This article was originally published on page 7 of The Cape Argus on June 21, 2009

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